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Source: Massey University

Jiahao He creates his own learning environement at Hangzhou library in China to help him with his online studies.

Transitioning to online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic has been made easier for a Massey University student after creating his own study environment in China to help him succeed in his studies.

Jiahao He is from Hangzhou and began studying finance on campus at Massey Business School in Palmerston North last year. The 20 year old enjoys learning how to analyse investment products and hopes to work in an international company in the future. He was about to start his second year when the pandemic struck.

“In China, COVID-19 very quickly became a serious safety and health problem, and we couldn’t go out, we had to stay at home. I thought this period would pass quickly but the situation became more and more serious. This made it impossible for me to return to New Zealand to continue my normal study at Massey in Semester 1.”

Jiahao was concerned studying online from China wouldn’t provide the same learning atmosphere and he would struggle to motivate himself. The time difference also made it difficult for him to watch the live broadcast of his classes. He says he had always thought it was more productive to be in class, and was worried he would now only be able to listen to a recording of it.

“I decided I had to adapt to the situation and create a learning atmosphere for myself at Hangzhou library where I found it easier to focus. Now I read the PowerPoint of the lesson and consolidate my knowledge before watching the recording of the class. I then complete the quiz afterwards to help absorb the material and this allows me to really take in the information.”

Despite the challenges, Jiahao has been incredibly successful in his online studies. While there was a time he thought about dropping out, he says he is now proud he stuck at it.

“Learning how to manage my time efficiently and persevering have been key in successfully studying online. There have also been plenty of opportunities to help understand the content like asking questions on class forums and WeChat groups, or discussing the problem with the teacher in tutorials.”

Pro Vice-Chancellor of the Massey Business School Professor Stephen Kelly says a working group was set up earlier this year to help international students transition as smoothly as possible to online learning.

“Staff are constantly communicating with international students and have been providing comprehensive online teaching for courses, including some additional online tutoring in both English and Chinese,” says Professor Kelly. “Our staff have also opened WeChat accounts and set up student groups, so that students and teachers can communicate more effectively.”

“While it is impossible to predict when the New Zealand border will be open, we will be providing more course options for international students in Semester 2 and Summer School to help them stay ahead of their studies despite the border restrictions, and we are hopeful that students will be able to join us on campus in New Zealand for the 2020/21 Summer School study period.”

Jiahao has decided he is only going to study three courses in Semester 2 as he continues to adjust to online learning. To ensure his graduation is not delayed, he will complete the fourth course at summer school at the end of the year. This is something that Jiahao encourages other students to do as well.

“For students who want to study at Massey this year, but their plans have been affected by the epidemic, I think they should make the same choice as me and study three courses in the next semester to adapt to the learning environment at home. This reduces the impact of COVID-19 on our lives and allows us to continue with our studies despite the situation.”